Monday, September 20, 2010

Michaelmas Fair

We arrived in time for the vehicle parade which kicks off the weekend's festivities. First up the tractors; the weird and wonderful, the remembered from one's childhood and the straight off the farm jobs (muck included).
This is Bishop's Castle, Shropshire staging its annual Michaelmas Fair - an event I would like to think has its roots in antiquity. The feast of Michaelmas has always been an important one, a day of Obligation, a quarter day when rents and accounts were due and a day marking the changing seasons with harvest over and darker days looming ahead. Traditionally goose was eaten at Michaelmas - lore has it to ensure wealth and prosperity in the year year ahead. Today though we grab a burger from a roadside stall. Good outdoor food, which when tucked into a soft bap and accompanied with sweet fried onions and lashings of sauce certainly fills a gap.

We watch the tractors and then vintage cars, tracing the progression from 'just like a stage coach' to 60s minis, Beetles and Campervans.

With the last motorbike -  ridden nostalgically by a helmetless rider - there is a hiatus. The crowd is waiting for more. In the expectant hush a lone woman's voice from up the street cries 'They're coming!' We lean out into the road as one to see that Yes! indeed they are.

The steam engines, those mighty, mighty puffing, panting, roaring machines are in procession. They are coming. They are coming and the excitement is tangible. Dogs and small children are restrained and sometimes comforted in the face of these smoke belching leviathans. No Brasso has been spared - they are polished to perfection; such handsome beasts.

Then just to prove that size isn't everything the parade ends with smaller machines:
All the engines make their way back to the 'Steam Yard' where they park up for the afternoon.
Here there seems to be much beer and tinkering and buffing with oily rags. This little girl though would probably rather be somewhere else. Bless:
My eye is caught by the tractor badges and I spend a happy half hour clicking away at the graphics:

(Apologies in advance for the irritating cartoon critters - the perfectly lovely Slide which I have used for 2 or 3 years has found it neccesary to embed stupidness. Why Slide? Why?*) Click the little cross to get rid. Now.

There was a lot more to the Fair of course than old vehicles  - live music and dance, exhibitions, food from local producers and crafts by local makers. Our £5.00 entry fee will let us in on both Saturday and Sunday - and I bet we would still not have seen everything. However by late afternoon on Friday we needed to get home to let our dogs out - the urgency of this underlined by the Glam Ass not taking up the offer of a ride on a steam engine!

Put it in your diaries for next September folks.

*PS I did ask the Slide people the 'Why?' question and was surprised to get a reply. Apparently the noxious cartoon is what pays for making Slide's photo posting a free service. Pah!


Pondside said...

What excitement - you brought it home perfectly.
Michaelmas is completely unfamiliar to me, except as a name for some daisies. Thanks for the little history lesson - I always enjoy those......and I am still enjoying your book. I'll definitely have to visit your area one day.

Jayne said...

I was hoping to get over to the fair but it was not to be, got keys to house on the 10th, everyone here is ill with back to school / college colds etc.

Just love the thunderous noise of steam engines, miss Fred Dibnah trundling round the local roads in Bolton.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Great day out !
Michaelmas aways sounds lovely , and this shows why . With hamburger and fried onions or roast goose for the really lucky!!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Oops! That last sentence should have read "With roast goose , or hamburger and fried onions for the really lucky "

Nikki-ann said...

I usually pop to 'Castle for look, but I'd got a wedding this year, so it was nice to see your photos :)